Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place


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Spinning Strands at First Light

spinningThe Daily Prompt asks this:  “Remember when you wrote down the first thought you had this morning? Great. Now write a post about it.”

Do a lot of writers really start writing first thing upon waking?  I’m sure some do.  I don’t, but I am amazed and compliment those who can.   My inner critic tells me that my thoughts are not going to be something I want to put to paper.  For example, this morning my first thought was “Oh, crap, I forgot to put the kitchen trash out last night.  I’d better do that before I leave for work or it’s going to smell to high heaven by the time I get home.”

My first thoughts were about stinking garbage.

I suppose a journal entry about garbage could eventually lead to some good polished writing.   Most likely, though, in my case it won’t.   For me, the mundane and ordinary have a different purpose.  They provide the backdrop over which the extraordinary can shine.   When I take the garbage out, will I breathe in the fresh, clean air of a glorious red dawn?    Will I see the raccoon that hangs out by the dumpster?  Will see a beloved friend along the way? What beautiful inspiration will come my way that I can write about?

Looking for the extraordinary things among the mundane is like spinning fine strands out of the tangled fibers of raw wool.  It takes skill and patience, but it can be done.

ljg


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Don’t Kick Yourself Yet

underwood typewriterIf you are like me, you have made a committment to write every day.  EVERY DAY.  If you are like me, you may have to fight the temptation to kick yourself when you don’t actually write every day.

But maybe we don’t have to be so hard on ourselves.   For example, during the business hours of yesterday and today I composed forty pieces of correspondence, some of them quite lengthy (my longest epistle was over 300 words).  That’s writing.

“But,” you say, “that’s WORK writing.  That doesn’t count.”

Well, you would be right in that I will not be polishing my work emails to go into a volume of short stories (though that is an interesting prospect now that I think about it).  But if your goal is to exercise your writing skills, then why not consider that email you are writing to a customer or to a colleague something to craft with great care?   I am not suggesting that you write something flippant or inappropriate that will get you fired, but consider it an exercise to use more descriptive words in your daily routine messages.  Be mindful of your grammar or spelling (I know I must).

Even if you are discussing budgetary concerns or the latest shipment of lighting fixtures to roll of your assembly line, you can attempt to make it a more  interesting, or at least a clearer, expression of your thoughts on a matter.  If you work at home, consider writing that note to your kid’s teacher with a little more care and elegance.

If you don’t have time to write “creatively” in your journal or on your home computer, it can’t hurt to practice the craft of writing in your day-to-day routine if you have that opportunity.

ljg


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Rosemary and Oranges

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I did not get outside much this week.  I was trapped in the fluorescent-lit confines of an office from dawn to dusk (literally). By Thursday afternoon, I found myself suffering from a minor case of seasonal affective disorder.  Yes, I was SAD.

Respite came this morning when I found myself with the opportunity to help an elderly person in his garden.  It was a brilliant, pre-spring day.  The sun was out, the grass was a lush and vibrant green from all the mild winter rains, and the sky was a pristine blue.

In return for clearing weeds out the garden,  I was allowed to harvest oranges, lemons, and rosemary to take home.  The sweet, warm smell of the oranges coupled with the resinous fragrance of the rosemary were enough to beat the blues out of me.  Something as simple as sunshine and the smell of growing things to cure what ails you — who knew?

What simple things in your life lift your spirit?

ljg (c) 2013


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A Plot O’ Earth

garden june 2012 002 sThe Daily Post’s daily prompt asks what we would do if we were given a plot of earth and unlimited financial resources.

Looking at some other responses to this post, I see that everyone is on the same track:  built a house with a garden.   I’m good with that too.

I would acquire a Craftsmen style home with low hanging eaves, wide porch, warm woods and handcrafted work inside and out.   If I could not find one with a large plot of land in the back, I would have a replica built.  (It’s cool having imaginary money!)

Craftsman_Residential_House

A California Style Craftsman Bungalow

The casual simplicity of the home would be a perfect place to hold my library and a workspace for my creative projects.   Of course, it would have all the latest sustainable home power solutions and a big kitchen and pantry. Oh, and a bathroom spa system.

There would be a big backyard for a garden.  Unlike my real life where I have to go to someone else’s home to work in a garden that just seems to fight against me in terms of labor and final output, in this fantasy life of great financial resource, I would hire a professional landscaper/horticulturalist who would design and plant a garden appropriate for the climate, soil, and positioning of the garden.   My hope would be to have both a flowered area for just sittin’ and sippin’, a vegetable patch, and a special herbal/medicinal section.

That’s all.  I don’t want a pool or tennis courts — well, maybe a small home gym would be nice and maybe a sauna — but that would be it.  Simple, rich, sustainable, a haven from the world.

What would you do with a plot o’ earth and a little money?

ljg


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Saturday Morning Encounter

This morning I took my camera and my writing journal and went out with no particular destination in mind.  And guess what I encountered?

Gargoyles

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Architecturally speaking, though, I think most these are considered Grotesques and not Gargoyles since they appear not to be waterspouts.   Well, they remind me of gargoyles at any rate.

ljg (c) 2013


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Miss Feuer’s Hike

What happens when Science becomes a god…….

Miss Feuer’s Hike

Miss Feuer thumped along the wooden-planked trail across the flat gray cinder field.  The sky was a clear blue bowl above her with only a few puffy white clouds drifting by, making shadows dance across the ground.  Behind her,  rising in perfect majesty,  was the snowcapped volcano, and in the other direction she could see wisps of steam rising from the caldera a few hundred yards down the trail.  That is where she was headed.   The kids in her seventh grade science class at Perkins Middle school in Cleveland would be amazed at her pictures of an active volcanic crater.

She continued down the trail.  She was completely alone for quite a while, until she met an elderly woman slowly walking from the opposite direction.  The woman was dressed in white pedal-pushers and oversized white shirt.  She had on a straw hat that shaded her golden face.   Miss Feuer smiled at her as they passed each other, but the old woman simply eyed her with a stern glare.  Miss Feuer shrugged it off and continued down the trail.

When she got to the lookout over the caldera she slowly drank in the barren devastation before her.  Everything she had been taught about the evolution of the planet — from its formation out of cohering dust particles spun off from a middle-class star to that first random strike of lightning in the bowl of a primordial soup — was all played out here on the sloping shield of this island volcano.  She could not wait to tell her students all about this.

Miss Feuer looked down at her feet.  Thousands of tiny black and dark brown stones glittered along the edge of the trail.  She picked one up to examine it.  It smooth to the touch and very shiny.  Volcanic glass.  Her breath caught in total delight as she gazed at the stone.   Her kids would love to see this.  Still holding the rock, she turned and saw the sign that had been prominently propped near the exit from the look-oup area.

This is a Sacred Site. Please Preserve the Past for the Sake of the Future.  Do Not Remove Rocks from this Area

She looked down at the rock in her hand.  Sacred site?  It’s just one small stone, for goodness sake. No one is going to miss it.   And educating children for the future sometimes requires that such superstitious foolishness be put aside for the sake of Science.  She stuck out her chin and shoved the rock in her pants’ pocket.

As she turned away from the sign and started strolling along the edge of the lookout, she noticed something bright red on the edge of the trail.  Coming closer she could see that someone had placed several stems of spiky petaled flowers there along with a red candle.   No doubt an offering of some sort to the volcano deity, she surmised.    She shook her head and continued on.   Then she saw something shiny in the sunlight.  It was a bottle.  She approached it and picked it up.  Gin?  So much for a sacred site, she thought.  Someone came up here and tied one on and then left their trash.   She stomped to a nearby trash bin and with a smug look on her face tossed the gin bottle into it.

As she started to exit the lookout area, her eye caught something else.  A few feet down the slope of the crater and saw a bundle of golden fibers glistening in the sun.   Her heart leaped.  She knew immediately that she had come across some of “Pele’s hair,” a term used by volcanologists to describe volcanic glass that had been spun into a shape resembling human hair.  She HAD to have some of that for the kids.  As she stepped off the trail, her foot crunched into the gravel-like soil of the caldera’s sloping wall.  She stretched out her arm and tried to reach for a small bundle of the fibrous stone.

Suddenly, the slope gave way and in what seemed to Miss Feuer as slow-motion, she began to slide down the side of the caldera.  And then her world went dark.

***

When she woke up, it took her several minutes to realize that she was in a hospital bed.  A man was standing over her.   “Good morning, Miss Feuer.  I am Dr. Adams.  You took quite a tumble.  How are you feeling?”

Miss Feuer tried to speak but her mouth felt like cotton and her tongue was stuck in place.  Dr. Adams reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small light.  “Let’s just take a look, shall we?”  He flashed the light in each of her eyes.  “Well, everything looks okay.  You took quite a crack on the head.   You’ll be a little sore for a few days.

Miss Feuer replied in a raspy voice, “What happened to me?”

“We’re not sure.  It appears you stepped off the trail and fell down the slope.   You’re lucky some other tourists came along the trail and found you.”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“Well, we’re going to keep you overnight just to make sure you’re okay.”

“Thank you, Doctor.”

Dr. Adam smiled and started towards the door. “The nurse will take care of anything else you need.  All you need to do is ask.”

As he exited, Miss Feuer could see a woman dressed in loose white scrubs who had been standing the corner of the room behind the doctor. She was shaking out Miss Feuer’s pants and then began to fold them.   She looked up at Miss Feuer and gave her a slight smile.

It was the woman on the trail.

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“Fire Girl”

Story:  Ljg © 2013

Image:  “Fire Girl”, constructed from found imagery.


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Home, Soil and Rain

I went looking for a quick writing exercise to get things moving today and found this Daily Post prompt from January that pitched this:

Write down the first words that comes to mind when we say …
 . . . home.
. . . soil.
. . . rain.
 Use those words in the title of your post.

I thought I would deviate from this prompt and try to tell a short story incorporating these words.  The protagonist of the story was going to be a woman returning to her childhood home after many years away.  However, I struggled so much trying to find a plot and resolution that I put the idea aside and decided to follow the prompt just the way it is written.

Here are my responses:

Home:   orange, browns, mother, warm, safety.

Soil:  hard, gray, clay, lizards, toads, gardenias, roses, lemons, tomatoes

Rain:  cold, dark, wet socks, diamond droplets on window glass, rainbow

I am struck by the progression of the words.  Each line starts with words that suggest a negative or neutral reaction to the motif.   Then the words progress towards a lighter, more positive embrace of the motif.  For example, “soil” moves from the suggestion of barreness to that of  beauty and fecundity.  I wonder if my resistance to writing a story surrounding the idea of “home”  might mean that I need to work through some issues regarding them.

I wonder how often “issues” have been the source of my past creative blocks.  Hmmm, something to consider.

Ljg


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Puppeteering and Craft of Writing

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One reason I like to write is because I am a control freak.  Where else can I create, express, manipulate, and destroy with impunity?  Where else can I have such total, all-encompassing power without the moral dilemma of actually harming anyone in the process of acquiring and wielding it?

I find in my writing a great deal of therapeutic power.  Whenever I feel that my life is out of my control, I know I can regain a sense of control through the manipulations of my characters and their stories through writing.

I can create my characters and their worlds in complete freedom to make them as beautiful or a dysfunctional as I please.  I can manipulate their lives and circumstances in ways that I could not do, nor would want to do, to people in “real life”.    My characters are like puppets on a string and I can move them here and there.  If I don’t like the way I have made their lives go, I can wrap them up like a puppet and put them away.

I am the ultimate puppeteer.

ljg (c) 2013


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A Useful Book for Getting Started

booksOne of my favorite writing books is Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. From this book, I have learned the following things that work for me to jump start my writing:

  • I write every day.
  • I set a timer for between 10 and 20 minutes.
  • I write without editing or redacting (at least I try too.  It’s hard not to do this).
  • I write without judgment, allowing myself to write the worst imaginable bunch of crapical claptrap.
  • If something uncomfortable comes up in the writing, I push through and continue writing about it until the clock runs out.

This sounds an awful lot like journaling.   Guess what? It is journaling.

Now if dispensing with this daily practice and just sitting down and commencing to write your short story or novel works for you, then you don’t need this.   But as the author of the book points out, daily writing in this manner is like a ballet dancer warming up at a barre before starting the performance.   You will have a better end result if you do this.

Most of what I write in this manner will never, EVER see the light of the blogosphere, and if the practice fails to help me understand myself and make me a better person and writer, then at the very least there may be nuggets in the writing that my inspire some fictional piece that I do want to share with others.

Goldberg’s book offers a number of daily writing suggestions to get you started.  I find myself a comfortable place, read a chapter and do the exercise she suggests.

Great stuff.  Actually I’ve owned copies of this book which I have given away to others.  Now I have one paper copy and one on my e reader.    On this alone, you can guess that I highly recommend this book to my fellow writers.